On Friday, March 12, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill (S.2588A/A.3354B) that allows public and private New York employees to take paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Employees are permitted take up to four hours of leave per injection, meaning an employee who receives a vaccine that requires two doses scheduled multiple weeks apart (at this time, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) will be eligible to take two four-hour periods of leave, while an employee who receives a vaccine requiring only one dose (at this time, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will be eligible for one four-hour period of leave. An employee would not be eligible for vaccine leave pay if they get vaccinated outside of their regularly scheduled work hours.

The law provides that employees must be compensated for vaccine leave at their regular rate of pay and that employers cannot deduct an employee’s vaccine leave pay from any other leave the employee is otherwise entitled to, such as sick or vacation pay. Employers are prohibited from disciplining or discriminating against employees who exercise their right to take time off to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The law provides that employees may receive more than four hours of vaccine leave if they are entitled to more time under a collective bargaining agreement or other agreement with their employer. For private employees, the right to vaccine leave can be waived under a collective bargaining agreement.

The law does not specify what sort of proof or documentation an employer may require from an employee with respect to their vaccine leave.

The law is immediately effective as of March 12, 2021 and is set to automatically expire on December 31, 2022.

Prior What You Need To Know Now updates, here and here, discuss whether your health plan is required to cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccination.